• Published 16th Jun 2020
  • 484 Views, 11 Comments

The Power of Two - Locomotion



A young changeling runs away from home, only to be attacked by timberwolves in the Everfree Forest. Fortunately, Locomotion is on hoof to save her - but little do they know that she has a spy on her tail...

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Chapter 8: Meeting the Elements - Applejack

Author's Note:

Readers, please note that since this takes place in my own universe (the Locoverse, if you like), the pairings of Fluttermac and Pinkieburn, among others, have been carried over from my previous fanfictions. Yes, the show may have introduced different pairings for them (and to be fair to them, I actually find the Cheesepie pairing kind of cute in its own way - but as for the other one...that's another story), but I feel it would be too much hassle to rewrite my overall headcanon, so I can only hope you'll excuse me for it. That said, I don't want any shipping wars on this fanfic, please.

Anyway, back to the main story...

Fortunately for Locomotion and Hornette, the rest of the day went by without any further mishap, and the two of them spent a quiet afternoon watching railway movies together while Steamer went about his gardening. For someone who didn't seem to have any prior understanding of comedy, the young changeling found “Bridleway Limited” surprisingly entertaining to watch, and more than once, Locomotion had to pause the video just so that she could pull herself together. Not that he minded, of course – if anything, it was a joy to see her laughing so much.

Hornette slept a lot more soundly that night. Locomotion had had no reservations about reading her another story, and she enjoyed looking over the illustrations in the book as he told her how two tank engines had tormented a mild-mannered diesel in the mistaken belief that he had stolen their trucks. Her leg was still a little sore when she woke up the following morning, but after a hearty breakfast of oatmeal bangers, baked beans and fried bread, she was so contented that she barely noticed until Locomotion asked her how she was doing a little later on.

“I'm okay, I guess,” she replied, sitting herself down on the sofa in the living room. “At least my leg's not as bad as it was yesterday.”

“Well that's something,” mused Locomotion as he quietly flicked through the pages of a railway history book. “I tell you what, I don't know how it is that Zecora knows so much about you changelings, but I'm sure glad she does.”

Hornette nodded her agreement. “I guess I'm really lucky to have someone like her to turn to,” she remarked. “Can you imagine going down with a really horrible illness, and no-one can do anything about it because they don't know enough about your species?”

“Mm...scary thought, that. I bet it was the same with a lot of creatures when they first came to Equestria.”

“Yes, it must have been. So anyway, um......about this Applejack?”

“Eh what?” Locomotion looked a little fogged for a few seconds, but quickly remembered what Hornette was talking about. “Oh yeah, she runs the orchard at Sweet Apple Acres along with her husband Caramel, her brother Big Macintosh, her sister Apple Bloom and her cousin Braeburn. She's a bit of a workaholic, that one, and pretty serious-minded too, so you'll have to forgive her if she comes across as being...well, kinda gruff.”

“I understand, but what's an orchard?”

“It's...basically a farm on which you grow trees or bushes for certain fruits and vegetables, such as apples, nuts and cherries,” explained Locomotion simply. “There are a lot of them in the local area, but Sweet Apple Acres is pretty much the prime example.”

“Oh, I see. And what about these other ponies you mentioned...what are they like?”

“Well, Apple Bloom is one of...” but a knock at the front door cut Locomotion off mid-sentence, and with a light shrug, he got to his hooves and trotted out into the hallway to answer. Hornette sat and listened patiently as she waited for him to return, still wondering how these Sweet Apple Acres ponies would take to her.


Sweet Apple Acres was only ten minutes away from Steamer's house, so the two teenagers, accompanied by Twilight once again, arrived at the homestead in good time to find the orange-coated farm pony preparing for a hard day's work. She had just finished loading a cart with fruit baskets, and was now running a final check before setting off.

“Morning, Applejack,” called Twilight as she, Locomotion and Hornette drew near.

“Howdy, Twilight.” Applejack politely tipped her Stetson in greeting; but Locomotion couldn't help noticing a hint of apprehension in her voice. “Is that the changeling y'all were talkin' about last week? The one what Loco found in the Everfree Forest?”

“She sure is,” affirmed Twilight, and turned her attention back to the young changeling; “Hornette, meet Applejack.”

The only response Hornette could manage was a shy nod. Already this Applejack pony seemed far more intimidating than Fluttershy or Locomotion.

“So,” said Applejack, staring dubiously back at the interloper, “Twilight tells me y'all ran away from yo' homeland 'cause ya din' wanna live la'k a savage?”

“Um...yes?” faltered Hornette, cowering slightly under her gaze.

Sensing her discomfort, Locomotion tried to intervene; but the moment he opened his mouth to speak, Twilight gave him a gentle nudge and shook her head.

“Any particular reason why ya came to Equestria of all places?”

Hornette gulped. “I thought that...I'd find the Promised Land beyond here,” she explained nervously.

“Have any o' yo' clan ever been there, or is this just an old folk tale?” quizzed Applejack.

“I don't know. Other changelings talked about it all the time...this sort of......world away from the Badlands where all creatures were equal, even our own kind...no fighting, no torture, no corruption – just peace and fair justice.”

“Uh-huh,” mused Applejack thoughtfully. It was still a little early to tell, she thought, but this changeling seemed pretty genuine so far. “Well, we Apples are always prepared ta give rookies la'k you a fair trial, so y'all can come help me gather the first apple crop – but no funny business, mind,” she added firmly.

“Oh, no, Miss...uh, Mrs Applejack...I-I-I wouldn't dream of it,” stammered Hornette meekly.

“Good – an' by the way, don't bother with all the fancy titles. Just call me Applejack.” The orange-coated mare turned to Locomotion; “You mind lendin' a hoof as well, Loco? The Bramley apple crop's lookin' pretty heavy at the moment.”

“Yeah, might as well, seeing as I'm here,” conceded Locomotion; but once Applejack had turned to fetch another two carts from the barn, he directed a disapproving sidelong glance at the lavender-coated alicorn. “Really, Twilight? The one moment where Hornette needed me to speak up for her, and you didn't even let me?”

“It wouldn't have been very wise under the circumstances,” replied Twilight gravely. “You trying to vouch for her would only have aroused Applejack's suspicions even further.”

“So? The poor girl was way out of her comfort zone already without being grilled by Applejack,” retorted Locomotion.

“Well...that's how it is, I'm afraid.” Twilight smiled apologetically. “Never mind, Loco, at least she's starting to warm up – I doubt she'd have let her anywhere near the orchard otherwise.”

The red-furred teen grunted and rolled his eyes again. “She sure has a funny way of showing it,” he muttered to himself.


Having loaded the carts with extra baskets, Applejack led Hornette and Locomotion out to the orchard to begin harvesting, while Twilight kept a close watch on them from overhead. As they went, the young changeling gazed with interest upon the vast groves of apple trees, quietly admiring their abundance and the sweet smell of the fruits that hung from their branches. These Apple ponies sure had done a good job with this orchard, she thought – it almost felt like an enchanted forest.

But her admiration was soon tempered by the effort and dexterity she had to put into gathering the apples. Applejack had given her a quick pep talk just before they set to work, but Hornette found the job of apple-bucking frustratingly difficult. No matter how hard she kicked from whatever angle, she only managed to shake a precious few apples loose each time, whereas Locomotion only needed to kick four or five times in order to bring the whole crop down.

In the end, the young changeling grew so impatient that she flew up into the tree and began shaking its branches vigorously. The intense rustling sound quickly caught Locomotion's attention, and he trotted over to see what was going on. “Having trouble, Hornette?” he called anxiously; but quickly stepped back as a deluge of apples began to rain down into the baskets below.

“I'm...fine!” came a strained grunt from within the tree, its branches starting to sway again. “Just...trying to...get...apples...out of...tree!”

“But...you already have!” exclaimed Locomotion. “There's not a single one left!”

The rustling quickly stopped, and Hornette drifted back down to firm ground, one eyebrow raised in confusion. Sure enough, she noticed that the baskets were now full to the brim. “Oh,” she murmured meekly, rubbing her right front leg with her left hoof. “Guess I didn't realise.”

Locomotion smiled sympathetically. Hornette was clearly trying her best to make a lasting impression on Applejack, but in his eyes, she was probably trying a bit too hard for her own good. “It's okay to just use your magic,” he soothed.

Hornette frowned and shook her head. “Um...thanks, Loco, but I'd rather not,” she replied. “I don't know if Applejack will like that.”
“Well...maybe not if you teleport them or whatever,” said Locomotion reasonably, “but I don't see that she'd have anything against basic telekinesis.”

“I...suppose not. I just don't feel right using magic when you aren't.”

The red-furred teenager nodded understandingly. “Yeah, on second thought, your method...kinda works well in its own right,” he observed. “Alright then, Hornette, whatever you feel comfortable with; but don't hesitate to ask for help if you get in trouble.”

“I will,” promised Hornette with a small smile.

With that, Locomotion left her to her own devices and went back to work – but just as he was raising his hind legs to buck his next tree, he heard another rustling noise from somewhere behind him. Perplexed, he lowered himself back on all fours and turned around to investigate. He couldn't see very clearly through the thick layer of leaves, but he could have sworn there was a slender black creature of some kind skulking in the branches only a couple of trees away.

The red-furred railway enthusiast stared suspiciously at the tree in question, wondering why some random pony would be hiding in Sweet Apple Acres. All of a sudden, an alarm bell started to ring in the back of his head – what if it was that Electro Diesel pony who had been following him and Hornette the other day?! Mentally bracing himself, he galloped across to the tree for a closer look – but barely was he a few yards away when there was a flash of green, and when he finally gathered his awareness, the mysterious creature had vanished into thin air.

Locomotion grimaced and gave an annoyed grunt as he went to resume his apple-bucking. That creature couldn't possibly have been Diesel, he thought, for no Pegasus would have been capable of teleportation – but something still didn't feel right. If anything, it felt as if there were a thousand eyes staring at him and Hornette from every angle, slyly watching their every move and waiting for the perfect opportunity...though for what, he couldn't yet place his hoof on. He remained on tenterhooks for the rest of the morning, keeping a suspicious eye open for any other would-be spies as he and Hornette kicked and shook the apples out of the trees. There were none to be seen, but it wasn't until they arrived back at the farmhouse, their carts fully laden, and found Twilight awaiting their return that he finally relaxed his guard.

Hornette, on the other hoof, was too exhausted to care. It had been hard enough trying to steer the cart even when it was empty, and its harness, though adjusted to allow her wings to flex freely, felt awkward and uncomfortable around her barrel; but combined with a surprisingly heavy cargo and the effort she had to put into shaking it loose from the trees, the job of hauling them back to the barn had proven so taxing that she could hardly stand.

The weary changeling parked her cart just outside the house and collapsed onto her haunches. “What a morning,” she panted, trying to catch her breath.

“Had enough, Hornette?” asked Twilight kindly.

Hornette nodded in reply as Locomotion, already shot of his own cart, set about undoing her harness. As much as she hated to admit it, she felt a little jealous of his strength. “I don't know how it is that you ponies can cope with all this,” she murmured unhappily.

“That's okay, Hornette,” comforted Locomotion. “You actually did pretty well for a first-timer. Thing about us unicorns and other magically capable creatures is that we tend to take our powers for granted, so we're generally not used to physical stuff like this.”

“Aren't you?” Hornette looked confused. “But...how can you not be used to pulling and apple-bucking? You were handling that cart like it wasn't even there!”

Locomotion chuckled faintly. “Yeah, well...I guess that's what comes from all those firing turns,” he remarked modestly. “Mind you, it kinda helps that I'm part Earth pony myself.”

Hornette responded with a thoughtful half-smile before gazing down at her hooves. “Maybe we changelings just aren't built to pull,” she muttered sadly.

“Aw, cheer up, Hornette,” cajoled Locomotion, patting her shoulder reassuringly. “You'll get used to it eventually.”

That was when Applejack, who had already left her cart in the barn ready for unloading later in the day, decided to step forward. “Ah got somethin' ta say ta y'all, young Hornette,” she stated, still bearing the same stern look and wary tone from earlier.

“Y-y-yes, M......uh, Applejack?” stammered Hornette, instinctively sidling up to her red-furred confidante.

“We Apples 'ave never had a changeling work on Sweet Apple Acres before, an' we've 'ad way mo' trouble from them than they're worth,” said Applejack in a stoic manner, “so Ah just want ya ta know that if y'all even think of comin' up this way ever again...”

Locomotion slapped an exasperated hoof to his face. Could the poor changeling never catch a break?

“...y'all are mo' than welcome here.”

Hornette was so stunned that she could only stare in disbelief. “I...I am?”

This caught Locomotion completely unawares. With a bewildered expression on his face, he slowly lifted his head so that his eyes were only just peering over his hoof – and sure enough, Applejack's mask of apprehension had melted away into a kind, welcoming smile.

“Darn tootin'. Only fair, after all, seein' the effort ya put into yo' work this mornin' – an' without usin' magic either! That's real dedication in mah book. Just a friendly tip fo' next time, though – don't feel ya have to overexert yourself when the goin' gets tough,” Applejack advised. “Ah won't take offence to you levitatin' them apples off the trees if ya can't buck 'em down – an' Ah'm sure Loco wouldn't want ya hurtin' yourself now, would he?”

“But...why are you being so trusting towards me all of a sudden?” blustered Hornette, now completely unnerved. “How do you know I'm not going to cause any trouble to this place?”

Applejack merely rolled her eyes in amusement. “If you really intended any harm around 'ere, you'd 'ave inflicted it by now,” she explained. “That's kinda why Ah was actin' so cold earlier – it was mah way of testin' yo' integrity an' work ethic.”

Only then did Locomotion see the funny side of it. “You mean to say you were faking it the whole time?” he chortled. “Blimey, Applejack, some Element of Honesty you turn out to be!”

“Well...not entirely, Loco,” Applejack pointed out firmly. “But yeah, sorry about mah earlier behaviour,” she went on. “Last thing Ah wanted was ta make ya feel threatened or whatever, 'specially after what a rough time y'all 'ad been through back home.”

There was a long silence as Hornette took in the apology and verbal seal of approval – but after a while, she managed a small, humble smile in response. “It's okay,” she replied softly. “I'm just glad I could make myself useful around here.”

“Well, you've sure done a good job, Ah'll tell ya that much fo' nothin'. So – you wanna stay fo' lunch?”


Hornette got on extremely well with the rest of the Apple Family. They were a little wary of her at first, but after Applejack told them how well she had managed with the apple harvest, they gradually began to warm to her. Braeburn and Apple Bloom in particular were keen to learn more about Hornette and her kind, and didn't hesitate to strike up conversation with the young changeling.

“So how ya la'kin' this place, Hornette?” chirped Apple Bloom.

“Well...it sure is different to what my old life used to be like,” admitted Hornette with a wry smile. “Certainly a lot more friendly than I expected, even from you ponies.”

Braeburn chuckled heartily. “Ah can imagine it would be. Home o' the Elements o' Harmony – need Ah say more?”

“Includin' yours an' Big Mac's wives an' mahself,” put in Applejack.

Hornette gazed at the two older stallions with interest. “You two are married? What are they like?” she asked curiously.

“Need ya ask?” replied Braeburn knowingly. “Ah happen ta be married ta the Element o' Laughter herself – Pinkie Pie. Now that there's a real fun pony, an' no mistake – nothin' she enjoys better than puttin' a smile on other ponies' faces, hence why she works as a baker an' party planner over at Sugarcube Corner.”

“Hmm...speaking of Pinkie,” remarked Locomotion, raising an eyebrow, “what's she been up to lately? I haven't seen her all week.”

“Oh, she's over in Manehattan. Cheese Sandwich needed her help organising a birthday party, and then the two of them were invited to host Anthro-Con at Rodeo City Music Hall,” explained Twilight. “I was planning on heading over there myself with Lyra and Moondancer this weekend, but I can't exactly leave you and Hornette alone.”

Locomotion gazed sheepishly at his plate, mentally berating himself for having upset Twilight's plans. “Ah...well, that's a little...awkward,” he muttered.

“Don't worry about it, Loco. I can always go next year; and besides, it's not as if Moondancer's going to hold it against me like she did when I first came here.”

“But...why would she be mad at somepony like you, Twilight?” asked Hornette, perplexed. “And what's Anthro-Con?”

Twilight rubbed a hoof against the back of her head with a rueful smile. “Well...back when we were in school together, Moondancer tended to be rather shy. She did eventually start to come out of her shell and interact a bit more with what few friends she did have, but it was just unfortunate that I had to leave for Ponyville the very same day as that birthday party she had been persuaded to throw,” she confessed. “It kind of broke her heart in a way, because she'd always looked up to me as a role model, and it wasn't until I came back and threw another party in her honour that she finally forgave me for it.”

“She sometimes comes down 'ere ta visit Twilight an' Lyra,” said Applejack knowingly. “Apparently she's become quite the Hu-Mare since Lyra first took 'er to Anthro-Con in Fillydelphia four years ago.”

Hornette was even more puzzled. “Hu-Mare?” she repeated.

“It's a nickname for fans of a TV series called 'Equestria Girls',” Locomotion clarified. “The show's got such a huge following these days that, at certain times of the year, they hold a huge convention known as Anthro-Con, so that Hu-Mares and Bro-Men can get together, talk with the creators, buy all sorts of cool merchandise and just...generally talk humans. I'm sort of a small-time fan of the series and so are some of my friends, but I never really got into Anthro-Con myself.”

Hornette merely nodded in acknowledgement. All this information about humans, Bro-Men and Hu-Mares was starting to hurt her brain, so she swiftly decided to change the subject; “So...how about you, Mr Macintosh? What's your wife like?”

Big Macintosh, who was already taking a noticeable shine to Hornette, stifled a chortle. “Well...Ah do believe y'all were hangin' out with her only a couple o' days ago,” he pointed out.

“I was? But the only pony I met that day was...” Hornette's eyes widened as she realised what the big red stallion was talking about. “You mean...Fluttershy?”

“Eeyup – an' Ah'd known 'er since foalhood, which makes it even mo' special,” added Big Macintosh fondly. “Mind you, she an' Ah wouldn't 'ave got this far if it weren't fo' Apple Bloom an' 'er Cutie Mark Crusader friends bringin' us together.”

Apple Bloom smiled modestly. “Yeah, well, it was mo' luck than anythin' else.”

The young changeling gazed at Big Macintosh in awe. “So that's who the other pony was!” she remarked.

“Uh...say what now?” quizzed Apple Bloom, taken aback.

“There was this photograph that Fluttershy had shown me of her and her husband when Loco and Twilight took me to meet her,” explained Hornette. “I thought that pony might have been Loco's older brother for some reason.”

Locomotion and Apple Bloom promptly burst into fits of laughter, causing Hornette to cock her head in confusion. “What's so funny?”

“Uh...good guess, Hornette, but a little wide of the mark,” replied Locomotion, pulling himself together. “Big Mac and I may share the same coat colour, but that doesn't mean we're related.”

Up to this point, Caramel, who was still uneasy about making acquaintance with a changeling, had refrained from saying anything for fear of offending her. But at the mention of relatives, he couldn't avoid murmuring to himself, “Yeah, but I can kind of understand why she'd think that,” in a tone that almost sounded derisive.

Applejack nudged him sharply in the ribs. “Caramel!” she hissed sternly. “Don't be so rude, y'all!”

“What'd you say, Caramel?” asked Locomotion, who hadn't quite been listening.

“Uh...nothing,” stammered Caramel hastily; but quickly rethought what he was going to say as he felt another harsh poke against his chest. “What I meant to say is...I was under the impression that you changelings were all offspring of the one queen.”

“Oh, no, Mr Caramel,” replied Hornette earnestly, “our mothers and fathers were completely different changelings to our queen, and I don't think there were any families that had more than a dozen foals.” With a shudder of discomfort and a disturbed look in her eyes, she added, “It's bad enough to have been one of her subjects – I can't imagine what life would have been like if I was her daughter!”

“So...you actually have...what do you call the males of your species?”

“Stallions? Yes, we do.”

“What made you think they didn't?” questioned Locomotion.

“Well...I know from Fluttershy that some insect species tend to eat the males after mating, and...”

“What?! No!!” exclaimed Hornette in alarm. “We're changelings, not cannibals!”

Locomotion, equally appalled, looked daggers at the tan-furred stallion. “Really, Caramel?” he chided. “Was there any need for that?”

Caramel sighed and hung his head in shame. “Sorry, Loco,” he apologised meekly. “I just...this is the first time I've even seen a changeling, let alone met one. All I had to go by were the Friendship Council's accounts of the Canterlot invasion plus whatever myths I happened to pick up from my friends down at the tavern.”

“It's alright, Caramel,” interjected Twilight calmly. “Just try not to take those rumours so seriously. Although now you come to mention it, there's something I've just realised...”

“Oh yeah?” said Locomotion curiously, forgetting to be cross. “What's that?”

“Well...all the changelings we encountered in Canterlot were bald with bare docks, and yet Hornette's got a full head and tail of hair, same as Chrysalis. Is there a reason for that, or is it just...changeling genetics?”

“I don't really know,” admitted Hornette. “Some other changelings did actually have manes and tail hair, but for whatever reason, our queen keeps forcing us to shave them right off. I guess she probably didn't want her subjects to look like her.”

Braeburn scoffed dismissively. “That's just stupid!” he retorted. “We have a sayin' 'ere in Equestria that 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. Surely even Chrysalis should recognise that!”

“I'll say,” agreed Locomotion feelingly. “I mean, why would anypony want to disfigure someone as...well, as sweet and innocent and...pretty as you? It's just...wrong!”

This brought a shy blush to Hornette's cheeks, and she bashfully turned her head away so that her mane was hiding part of her face. Had Locomotion really just called her...pretty? A mere changeling such as herself? Surely not, she thought.

What she didn't notice was that Twilight was now gazing coyly at her and Locomotion with a thoughtful expression on her face. The suppression spell had clearly been doing its job, that much was obvious from the memory scans she had run on them every time she came to renew it; and yet the red-furred unicorn had somehow managed to tickle the young changeling pink without meaning to. If this wasn't down to magical seduction, then...maybe this was something she needed to look into a little more closely at some point, she decided.


After lunch, Locomotion and Hornette hung out a little while longer before heading home. While Braeburn took care of the washing up, the rest of them went to relax in the living room, where they spent a good hour or so quietly chatting with the young changeling and generally getting to know her better, as well as sharing their own life stories. Even Caramel was good enough to tell her about his lonesome past in Manehattan, and how he too had migrated to Ponyville after the collapse of the infamous shopping mall walkways had disabled his mother and killed his best friend.

Hornette was amazed to learn how much she and Caramel had in common, but was even more fascinated by Apple Bloom's anecdotes of her own adventures with the Cutie Mark Crusaders, especially when she learned that the group had since grown into a nationwide charity. She admired how the yellow-furred mare and her friends, just as they had done for each other in the past, were now helping other little fillies and colts discover their true colours and gain their Cutie Marks; although deep down, she couldn't help feeling a little saddened by the knowledge that, as a changeling, she would never gain one of her own. Indeed, the two of them got along so well that it was nearly three o'clock when she decided she wanted to head back to Steamer's house.

“Thank you for having me over,” she said as she and Locomotion got ready to leave. “It was really nice getting to know you all.”

“Don't mention it, y'all,” replied Applejack kindly. “Least we could do, after a' yo' help this mornin'.”

“Yeah, an' it was nice gettin' ta know you too, Hornette,” put in Apple Bloom. “We should totally hang out again sometime – maybe invite Scoot an' Sweetie-Belle along too.”

Hornette smiled in agreement. “That would be wonderful, Apple Bloom. So...does this mean we're friends?”

“Darn tootin'!” affirmed Apple Bloom with a hearty smile of her own. “Good luck with yo' parole, by the way. Hope ta see you again soon – you too, Loco.”

“So long, Apple Bloom. Take care.”

With a final friendly nod, Locomotion led Hornette out of the farmhouse and across the orchard towards home, Apple Bloom keeping her eye on the young changeling until they were out of sight. “Boy howdy,” she mused, “that Hornette sure was nice. Never thought changelings could be so friendly – or that Ah'd ever make friends with one, fo' that matter.”

“Ah don't think any of us did,” said Braeburn, who had only just finished with the dishes. “Guess it just goes ta show – li'l bit o' good in everypony, so long as ya look hard enough.”

Big Macintosh nodded thoughtfully. “She kinda reminds me o' Fluttershy,” he observed.

“I take it from those reactions that you all like her then?” asked Twilight.

“You bet yo' boots we do, Twilight!” chuckled Applejack, and all the other Apples murmured in agreement. “The way she was goin' at it earlier, it's as if she really looked up to us ponies.”

Even Caramel had to admit that Hornette wasn't so bad after all. “She's...different,” he said simply, “but in a good way.”

The lavender-coated alicorn acknowledged this with a faint smile of satisfaction. “Right, well I'd better go finish writing my census report to Princess Celestia.” But just as she was about to open the door, she suddenly remembered something that caused her brow to furrow with concern as she turned back to face Applejack. “Actually, that reminds me – did you happen to see a black creature hiding in the trees near where you were working this morning?”

Applejack looked confused. “Uh...don't think so. Ah was too busy keepin' an eye on Loco an' Hornette. Why do ya ask?”

Twilight didn't reply. She just gazed out across the orchard, her eyes narrow with suspicion. “Right...maybe I'd better have a word with Loco about this...”

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